Hello everyone. Inspired by yesterday's International Women's Day I've mixed things up a bit and decided to post this week's STEM story early! In today's post, I'm going to share with another amazing STEM story from Daisy Shu (She/Her) aka @eyedaisyshu. Daisy is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow working at Harvard Medical School in the US. Her research explores the role of metabolism and mitochondria (my favourite organelle - YAY!) in cells of the retina and investigates new drugs to treat retinal eye diseases.
Outside of the lab Daisy is a bit of a yogi and after becoming obsessed with the Great British Bake Off (who isn't), Daisy has recently started baking. If you're a scientist that uses social media then you've probably seen already stumbled across Daisy's Instagram account (@EyeDaisyShu) - but if not make sure you check it out.
Daisy kindly agreed to be featured for the Science Scribbles STEM stories series and here's what she had to say:
Tell me a bit about your STEM journey
My undergraduate studies were at The University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, majoring in optometry and vision science. My training was highly clinical and when I graduated, I worked as a clinical optometrist in private practice for 2 years in Sydney before starting my PhD at the University of Sydney. My PhD project explored how cataract forms, a highly prevalent eye disease that leads to cloudy vision and if left untreated for long enough, blindness. Since I had a clinical background, it was a steep learning curve for me to learn all the molecular biology techniques required for my PhD project including western blotting, immunofluorescence, qPCR, tissue dissection and cell culture.
During my PhD, I was fortunate to do a 3-month placement in the Zieske lab at Harvard Medical School studying wound healing mechanisms in the cornea. While I was in Boston, I interviewed for my current postdoc position and got the job and as soon as I submitted my PhD thesis, I hopped on a plane and relocated to Boston to start working in the Saint-Geniez lab where I currently am. My future goal is to have my own lab studying the wound healing mechanisms in the eye.
What is your favourite thing about being a scientist?
I love discovering new things and building on our current understanding of the eye and finding new and more effective ways of curing eye diseases. It’s so much fun exploring the literature and coming up with new hypotheses to test and designing experiments to answer those questions. I also love wearing gloves and mixing things so benchwork is right up my alley.
What's the greatest challenge you've had to overcome?
The greatest challenge was transitioning from being a clinical optometrist to a biomedical researcher. My undergraduate degree did not include much molecular biology work so I jumped into the deep end when I started my PhD.
If you could go back and give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t forget to take a break, look after yourself and have some fun!
If you weren't a scientist is there any other career you'd like to pursue?
I love writing so I’d probably be an author or journalist.
Big thank you to Daisy for sharing here STEM story with us. If you want to learn more about Daisy and her research please take a look at her Instagram page - it's full of lots of wonderful lab photos!